Tuesday Teaser 2/13/18: Gina’s Wolf Part 4
Yesterday was my mom’s birthday. She’s in her mid-80s, and she has dementia. She does pretty well, but she really can’t live on her own. My oldest brother lives with her but she doesn’t really want her son to wash her hair, etc, and she doesn’t want a stranger to come in and do it. And even if she’s known you for years, you’re a stranger to her. So at the end of March I will be putting my stuff in storage and moving home.
Frankly, I don’t want to. I like living on my own and it’s been decades since I lived at home. I don’t want to share a bathroom with my brother. 🙁 However, the next door neighbor’s infatuation with his subwoofer is changing my mind about that. Mom’s house will be relatively quiet. I think I’ll be able to write there. Here, I give up after about an hour and have only 100 words written. In the long run, I think this move is the best thing.
I did manage some words this week. Here is the second half of Chapter 2:
After the meal, the ladies were excused so the men could put their heads together and lay their plans. Gina would have loved to linger and listen, but her mother firmly ushered her out. At least she didn’t have to put up with Tanner and Jon anymore. As the cluster of women approached the harem tent, she turned away from them.
“Georgina?” her mother said sternly.
“I need to use the facilities,” she said airily.
One of the guards flanking the door flap halted her. “Beg pardon, Miss Todd,” he said diffidently. “The president has instructed us to escort you wherever you want to go.”
“I’m just going to the latrine.”
“Yes, Miss. I will escort you.” Even in the starlight she could see the blush that rose to his cheeks. “You’ll need to leave your wrap here, please.”
“But it’s cold.”
The blush darkened. “Yes, Miss. President’s orders.”
I won’t be likely to run away without something to keep me warm, she thought sarcastically. “Alright. Mom, will you take my shawl?”
Her mother took the wrap with a frown. “You have a chamber pot in the tent,” she began.
“I need some fresh air.”
With no wrap over her mostly bare shoulders, it really was cold. Gina hurried over the icy ground to the row of tents erected over the latrines. She wanted to escape. In fact, after dinner with Jon and Tanner, she was determined to escape. But running off with a guard hanging on her heels and without provisions or even a coat was impossible. And this young private –Carson? Carleton?—would be in big trouble if she ran away when he was guarding her. She would just be married off to a repulsive commune of misogynists; he would be executed.
She left him waiting a few respectful yards from the latrine tent and did her business as quickly as she could. When she came out of the tent she didn’t see him standing where she had left him. She glanced around, confused. On her second glance she focused on the ground, looking for tracks to show where he had gone, and that’s when she found him.
The gallant young private was a crumpled dark shape on the moonlit snow. A black shadow spilled over the snow around his head. She rushed forward. A large, dark animal sprung out of nowhere to block her path. It was a dog. No, not a dog. Gina squinted in the dim light, trying to ignore the leap of terror in her throat while identifying the animal. It was a wolf. A wolf? The huge head was level with her waist. Fangs gleamed ivory in a gaping maw. Gina froze, not even breathing. There were dark streaks on the teeth. Blood? Gina finally remembered to breathe.
Her scream died in her throat. The top of the broad head had no fur, only a raw place were blood had clotted. She had seen only one wolf up close in her life. She swallowed a shuddering breath.
“Colby?” she whispered.
The wolf moved to her, his eyes shining yellow in the dim light. She backed away. He kept coming. After a minute of retreating from his advance she realized he was herding her out of camp. She tried to side step. He moved with her, now using his heavy shoulder to force her to keep moving. It was too cold out here without a wrap. Her dress was thin, no protection from the wind. Her shoes were sturdier than her evening pumps, but still not warm enough She was sure the camp had guards around the perimeter. One of them would see her and … What? Rescue her? Send her back to Jon and Tanner? Shoot Colby? Ice that had nothing to do with the temperature slid down her spine. Or worse. They would capture Colby and turn him over to Major Ellis and her stepfather to torture.
Colby must have a camp. Hopefully he had something warm for her to put on there. This was her best chance of escape. She turned and allowed the wolf to push her out of camp.
Once it became clear she wouldn’t try to go back to camp, the wolf bounded a few steps in front and led her away from camp. Every few steps he turned his head to be sure she was still behind him. She turned her head too, to be sure no one was following them. It wouldn’t be long before she and the private were missed.
The private. Gina wrapped her arms around herself as she hurried behind the wolf. Was he dead? Cold seeped into her bones, the result of horror mixed with the frigid air around her. The private hadn’t done anything wrong, but the wolf murdered him. Maybe she was insane to be following this wolf through the dark. If she hadn’t seen him transform from a man to a wolf on the train with her own eyes, she wouldn’t have believed it. There really were werewolves, and Colby was one.
She tripped over a clod of frozen earth under the snow and hit her knees hard. The wolf dashed to her side and nipped her wrist.
“Hey!” She batted ineffectually at him. He responded by closing his mouth over her wrist and tugging. She could feel his teeth against the bones in her wrist but he didn’t bite down. “Okay, okay, let go. I’m coming.”
She would have sworn she walked for hours behind the wolf. She grew colder with every step. When they came to the river, she realized they had walked at least five miles. It really had been hours, then. The wolf growled low when she didn’t immediately slide down the bank. She held her arms close to her sides so he couldn’t nip her wrist again and cautiously went down to the river. The frozen river wouldn’t stop any pursuit, but it might slow them down. Where were the pursuers? She had expected them to catch up long before this. She made her way carefully over the river, the wolf trotting before her.
Without trees or hills, nothing blocked the wind on the surface of the frozen water. Her teeth chattered as she laboriously pulled herself up the opposite bank. At the top, she fell. The wolf was there, sticking his furry face into her hers and growling.
“Colby,” she croaked. “I can’t. I just can’t.”
The wolf didn’t accept that. He put his massive shoulder into her side and pushed. She dragged herself to her feet and stood wavering, staring at the wolf.
“How much farther?” she asked.
The wolf growled and stepped past her to lead the way.
She trudged behind him. How cold was it? Forty degrees? Above freezing, so she couldn’t actually freeze, could she? She couldn’t feel her feet, though, and that couldn’t be good. Her upper arms and face stung with cold. At least the wind was dying down. The skirt of her satin dress wouldn’t be much protection, but she flipped it up to cover her shoulders, not caring if the wolf could see her underwear. Modesty was the least of her problems right now. Besides, it was a wolf. Colby had yet to make an appearance.
On and on they went through the cold night. Gina stopped looking back to check for pursuit. If her stepfather’s men caught up with them she might be grateful. They would wrap her in blankets and give her something warm to drink. Just the thought of it brought the threat of tears.
“Colby,” she called.
The wolf didn’t pause, but one of his ears cocked back as if to hear her better.
“Colby, how much farther?”
He didn’t answer.
“Colby!” she shrieked. “I’m freezing. I’m tired of following a stupid wolf who won’t even talk to me. Are you in there?”
The wolf trotted on. She ground her teeth to keep them from chattering. You wanted to escape, she reminded herself. Don’t be a baby. Freezing to death was preferable to marrying Jon, Tanner, and whoever else in Falls City. Colby would take care of her as soon as he decided they were safe. She just had to be patient and keep moving. At least he has a thick fur coat to wear. That bit of envious sarcasm was her last thought before she tripped over something and tumbled into the comfort of darkness.